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|Year of election:||2016|
Research Foci: Oceanography, Hydrology, Air/Sea Gas Exchange, Continental Paleoclimate, Arctic Change, Sustainable Development
Peter Schlosser by training is a physicist who works in the fields of Earth Sciences, Environmental Engineering, and Sustainable Development. A primary field of activity is the measurement and application of trace substances that either occur naturally or have been introduced to the environment (so-called environmental tracers) to problems of water movement in natural systems (oceans, continental surface waters, and groundwater), air/sea gas exchange and continental paleoclimate. In these studies the tracers are used as ‘global dyes’ (e.g., tritium or radioactive hydrogen released during testing of nuclear devices or sulfurhexafluoride primarily used in the electrical industry, radioactive clocks (e.g., tritium in combination with its radioactive decay product 3He, radiocarbon, or 39Ar), or fingerprinting of specific water masses (e.g., the stable isotopes of water 2H, i.e., deuterium and 18O).
An example of Peter Schlosser’s and his research group’s work is the study of deep and bottom water formation in the high latitudes of the ocean including its variability and change. These studies produced the first solid evidence for a dramatic, ca. 80 per cent reduction of deep water formation in the Greenland Sea around 1980 using tritium (3H) and CFCs (anthropogenically produced chlorofluorocarbons). This contribution presented one of the first insights into abrupt changes of ocean dynamics and clearly demonstrated how finely tuned ocean processes can be, thus making them very vulnerable to human-induced perturbations of our environment.
Another example is the discovery of the supersaturation of helium and neon close to melting ice sheets around Antarctica. This signature, together with stable oxygen isotopes of water can be used to quantify the contribution of glacial meltwater to the bottom water formation around Antarctica, as well as for the mass balance of the floating Antarctic ice sheets. The latter is of major interest with respect to the stability of the Antarctic ice sheets.
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